756 – Etiquette

Finally, a few points about etiquette within the monasteries and around the monks. Any sort of guide you read about Athos will likely include a laundry list of things not to do within the monasteries or in the presence of the monks, including: talking loudly, singing, whistling, wearing shorts or short-sleeved shirts, standing with your hands in your pockets or clasped behind your back, and crossing your legs when seated. At some point, you’re probably going to break one of these ‘unwritten rules’ (either unintentionally or otherwise, for example after deciding that while trekking from one monastery to another, losing the long sleeves would be really nice); however, as long as you show a general respectfulness for the monks’ way of life and the places they consider sacred, it almost certainly won’t be a big deal. The worst you’ll get is a gentle reprimand (I was politely asked to take my hand out of my pocket while standing at the back of a church), and I came across a fair number of other (mostly Greek) pilgrims who flouted many of the items listed above without a second thought. Again, the larger and more international monasteries seem less rigid when it comes to ‘etiquette’, because they’re more accustomed to dealing with larger numbers of pilgrims. Also, punctuality for church services is not terribly important – you’ll notice both monks and pilgrims trickling into services long after they begin, and sometimes leaving before they end.
Photo and text by Fio
My problem is that i always cross my legs when seated in the katholikon. But before the monks give me a reprimand my friend Jaap has corrected me with an angry look.

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